A challenge to liberalism? The communitarianism of the Big Society and Blue Labour

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Abstract

This article explores how in recent years both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have begun to argue that the institutions of civil society and community should be reinvigorated and strengthened. Such argu- ments take inspiration from the theories of communitarianism, which stress the importance of community and civic life over the more liberal claims of individual rights. For the Conservatives, these ideas have been synthesized under the banner of the ‘Big Society’, while ‘Blue Labour’ – a relatively new political tendency – argues that Labour must stand for a more cooperative and reciprocal civil society based upon community action. It is subsequently argued that although both concepts unques- tionably represent an engagement with communitarian ideas, they face significant challenges. Ultimately, the article concludes that the Big Society faces more profound impediments than Blue Labour which, if it is able to overcome its own difficulties, may well support the foundation for a powerful, communitarian social democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-382
JournalCritical Social Policy
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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